This has been a week of immense losses in the technology field. While much ink has been poured and pixels twinkled over the passing of Steve Jobs of Apple, another great man in American technology, Dennis Ritchie passed away, too.
By creating C, Ritchie gave birth to the concept of open systems. C was developed so they could port Unix to any computer, and so that programs written on one platform (and the skills used to develop them) could be easily transferred to another. -Wired
It may seem unfair to remember one man’s life based on another’s but I think this wonderfully written, but long piece comparing and contrasting the contributions of both men does a nice job of showing, really, just how important Mr Ritchie’s contributions were.
Who wins? We all do. And now, itâ€™s too late to personally thank either of them.
Dennis Ritchie accepting technology award from Bill Clinton. Image wikipedia
Ritchie on the left, Jobs on the right. Image Wired.
Was Dennis Ritchie more important than Steve Jobs?
OCTOBER 13, 2011BY GEOFF DUNCAN | www.digitaltrends.com
It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison, but the loss of two industry giants within a week makes us wonder: who’s contribution to modern technology is more important?
Computing pioneer Dennis Ritchie died this past weekend at age 70, becoming the second technology giant to pass within a week â€” the other, of course, being Appleâ€™s Steve Jobs. Although Jobs was unquestionably the better-known figure, Ritchie was the creator of the C programming language and one of the primary developers of the Unix operating system, both of which have had profound impacts on modern technology. Unix and C lie at the heart of everything from Internet servers to mobile phones, set-top boxes and software. They have exerted tremendous influence on almost all current languages and operating systems. And, these days, computers are everywhere.
The coinciding events lead to an obvious question: Who was more important to modern technology, Ritchie or Jobs? Itâ€™s a classic apples-to-oranges questionâ€¦ but the search for an answer sheds a bit of light on what lead to the high-tech revolution and all the cool toys we have today.
Dennis Ritchie, Unix, and C
Dennis Ritchie was a computer scientist in the truest definition: He earned a degree in physics and applied mathematics from Harvard in the the 1960s and followed his father to work at Bell Labs, which was one of the hotbeds of tech development in the United States. By 1968 Ritchie had completed his Ph.D., and from 1969 to 1973 he developed the C programming language for use with the then-fledgling Unix operating system. The language was named C because it developed out of another language called B, created by Ken Thompson (with some input from Ritchie) for use with Multics, a Unix precursor. So, yes, even the name is geeky.